Uber vs. Taxi

The Kenya United Taxi organisation gave the government 7 days from Tuesday 2nd Feb to remove Uber from Nairobi or they would bring the city to a standstill. This came days after reports began to surface that Uber cars were being attacked by regular taxi drivers in certain areas in the city.The regular taxi drivers claim that Uber is undercharging users and therefore driving them out of business. They also claim that the company is not compliant with government regulations.

I know for a fact that’s not true! All Uber drivers have to get a certificate of good conduct from the Criminal Investigative Department (CID), under go a brief training and all the cars in the service – last I checked – were registered as public services vehicles (PSVs).

Personally, I have no sympathy for the old taxis. When I did use them, the fare varied wildly depending on what time it was, where I was, how much English I used and how inebriated I was. With Uber, I don’t need to worry about all this. The fare is constant and the driver and I do not have to interact to determine anything. It’s extremely convenient.

I was shocked to find out that the normal taxis actually had an organising society that is able to call them all together so that they can strike enough to cause a disruption to the entire city. I think that the association is coming at this all wrong.

It is not an open secret that Uber is having a problem getting as many drivers as they need. I’d wager that normal cabs outnumber Uber at least 10 to 1. The fix for me is for the association is to launch their own Uber-like competitor.

Something I’m yet to hear in all this hullabaloo is anyone mention EasyTaxi. Everyone I know who has Uber has EasyTaxi, well except me, and they generally use it to compare prices against Uber particularly during the surge pricing. The fact they exist together with Uber shows that they can compete.

Well, some might say, the taxis have a problem now and are looking for a quick fix. They taxi companies can license or acquire the technology from another company. Uber and EasyTaxi won’t give it to them but there’s another Kenyan company that plays in the same space but has been unable to compete with the financial and marketing might of Uber and EasyTaxi. This company is called Maramoja Transport.

Maramoja Transport first came to my attention during the 2014 Pivot East competition. In those days Uber and EasyTaxi weren’t here yet but the thing I liked about them most was a safety feature that they had implemented with a local security company.

I liked this option because it means that we have a local startup benefiting from this situation to compete with the two foreign companies and the founders can also exit something that will inspire more tech entrepreneurs. It’s also a quick fix that can be finalised in a few weeks.

Meanwhile the Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia, has come out in support of Uber saying:

“We are in a liberalised environment and those who offer competitive services must be protected. Uber operators and their clients will be protected”

How do you think the local taxis get out of this? Tweet me or comment below. Peace!!!

Written by Sidney Ochieng

Child at heart and mind. Feminist. Story teller. Fledgling data scientist. Your future boss

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